Toyota C-HR review

Category: Small SUV

The 2024 C-HR is comfy and efficient – and is now available as a regular or plug-in hybrid

Toyota C-HR front right driving
  • Toyota C-HR front right driving
  • Toyota C-HR interior dashboard
  • Toyota C-HR boot open
  • Toyota C-HR interior driver display
  • Toyota C-HR right driving
  • Toyota C-HR front right driving
  • Toyota C-HR front right static
  • Toyota C-HR right static
  • Toyota C-HR rear left static
  • Toyota C-HR badge detail
  • Toyota C-HR alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota C-HR body detail
  • Toyota C-HR rear badge detail
  • Toyota C-HR front interior
  • Toyota C-HR interior front seats
  • Toyota C-HR interior infotainment
  • Toyota C-HR interior detail
  • Toyota C-HR interior aircon controls
  • Toyota C-HR interior back seats
  • Toyota C-HR front right driving
  • Toyota C-HR interior dashboard
  • Toyota C-HR boot open
  • Toyota C-HR interior driver display
  • Toyota C-HR right driving
  • Toyota C-HR front right driving
  • Toyota C-HR front right static
  • Toyota C-HR right static
  • Toyota C-HR rear left static
  • Toyota C-HR badge detail
  • Toyota C-HR alloy wheel detail
  • Toyota C-HR body detail
  • Toyota C-HR rear badge detail
  • Toyota C-HR front interior
  • Toyota C-HR interior front seats
  • Toyota C-HR interior infotainment
  • Toyota C-HR interior detail
  • Toyota C-HR interior aircon controls
  • Toyota C-HR interior back seats
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Introduction

What Car? says...

A few years ago, Toyota had a bit of an image problem. Sure, its cars were very reliable, but fashionable? Not really. Until the Toyota C-HR came along.

The C-HR helped make the brand a bit more hip with its wacky, coupé-inspired styling, and this second-generation model comes with the promise of more tech, more fun and a bit more space.

It's roughly the same size as its main small SUV rivals – the boxier Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq – although its rakish looks have more in common with the slightly smaller Nissan Juke. However, the C-HR isn't a cheap option, and its price strays well into the territory of premium-brand models including the BMW X1 and Lexus LBX.

That's partly because it's available only with hybrid engines – you can have a regular hybrid or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) – and the payback is impressive fuel economy and low CO2 emissions. The PHEV version also offers the prospect of a decent electric-only range, which compares well with competitors such as the plug-in Kia Niro and the Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

But what’s it like and should you buy one? Read on to find out how the Toyota C-HR squares up against the best small SUVs...

Toyota C-HR rear right driving

Overview

There are certainly cheaper and more practical alternatives, but the Toyota C-HR is comfortable, easy to drive, super-frugal and should prove very reliable. If you love the looks and space isn't a priority, it's unlikely to disappoint. We reckon the 1.8 Hybrid in Design trim represents the best value for money, while the highest trim levels and the plug-in hybrid version are more difficult to recommend.

  • Efficient hybrid engines
  • Should prove very reliable
  • Comfortable ride
  • Expensive
  • Rivals are much more practical
  • Not much fun to drive
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Our Pick

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Toyota C-hr 1.8 Hybrid Design 5dr CVT review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

There's a choice of two petrol-electric regular hybrid engines for the Toyota C-HR – a 138bhp 1.8-litre and a more potent 193bhp 2.0-litre. There's also the PHEV version, combining the 2.0-litre engine with a bigger battery.

The 1.8-litre is our pick. It’s no speed demon, managing 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds (a second slower than a Lexus LBX) but it’ll get you up to motorway speeds without much fuss.

If that won’t cut it for you, check out the 2.0-litre regular hybrid. We timed one at our private test track accelerating from a standstill to 60mph in 8.4 seconds, making it slightly quicker than the Ford Puma 1.0 Ecoboost 155 and the VW T-Roc 1.5 TSI 150.

The PHEV C-HR has more power (220bhp) and is quicker still, covering 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds, making it faster in a straight line than plug-in versions of the Kia Niro and Mazda MX-30. It has an official electric-only range of 41 miles, which is a little further than those two rivals.

Suspension and ride comfort

The C-HR features relatively soft suspension giving it a comfortable ride at motorway speeds. However, in town, it does occasionally trip up over sharp-edged abrasions in a way that you simply won’t experience in a Skoda Karoq or Volvo XC40

Toyota C-HR image
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It's important to note, though, that we have only sampled the C-HR on the 19in alloy wheels that come as standard on range-topping Premiere Edition trim. Icon and Design models come on smaller 17in and 18in wheels respectively and they should improve the ride. 

Keep that in mind if you like the look of the GR Sport models – they come on stiffer suspension and have big 20in alloys. Although we haven't tried them yet, it's a safe bet to assume you'll be jostled around in your seat a bit more than in other versions.

The PHEV C-HR has a slightly retuned suspension setup to cope with the heavier battery, electric motors and chargers that come with. It's a little firmer than the regular hybrid but still rides in a very similar manner.

Handling

The C-HR isn't as sharp or fun as the Audi Q2 or the Ford Puma but still handles in a competent, grown-up manner when you're driving normally. It has well-weighted, accurate steering, which works well both in town and on faster roads, and there isn't too much body lean through tighter corners. 

Our only complaint is that the front tyres don't have a great deal of grip, which means when you try to push on a bit along a country road you'll quickly notice the front end of the car running wide of your chosen line. It's not alarming, but it does rob you of some enjoyment. 

The GR Sport version, with its stiffer suspension and stickier tyres, could well be more agile and grippier (we'll let you know as soon as we've tried it).

Noise and vibration

At very low speeds, even the regular hybrid C-HR can be driven along on the electric motor alone, so it’s quieter than most conventional petrol or diesel alternatives. However, anything more than gentle acceleration requires the help of the petrol engine, at which point things get a bit rowdy, especially in the 2.0-litre version. 

The blame lies with the CVT automatic gearbox which, whenever you squeeze your right foot, causes the revs to rise suddenly and stay high until you’re up to your desired speed, filling the interior with an annoying drone. The CVT-equipped LBX has the same trait, but its three-cylinder engine is much quieter than the 2.0-litre in the C-HR, making it a less tiring companion.

The plug-in hybrid can travel for much greater distances on pure electric power alone, so you can enjoy the pure-electric silence for longer stints than you can in the regular hybrid. When the engine does kick in it can still sound a bit raucous, but the transition between power sources is smooth.

Whichever version you buy, the C-HR's interior is well isolated from wind and road noise, and the brake pedal is far less grabby than in some other hybrid cars.

“Despite the plug-in hybrid C-HR coming with a slightly firmer ride than the hybrid, it still rides well on the motorway. However, I found that it tended to trip up over potholes in town.” – Lawrence Cheung, New Cars Editor

Driving overview

Strengths Comfortable ride; easy to drive; relatively quiet cruiser

Weaknesses Noisy when accelerating harder; not much fun; 1.8 isn't exactly a rocket ship

Toyota C-HR interior dashboard

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

Although the Toyota C-HR is a small SUV, you don't sit as high up in it as in many rivals. You're closer to the road than in a Skoda Karoq, for example, although you do still feel further from the ground than in a regular hatchback, such as a VW Golf

There are no major ergonomic issues inside, and mercifully the C-HR has some physical controls for its air-conditioning system (unlike many modern cars). The seat and steering wheel have plenty of adjustment, although entry-level Icon models do miss out on adjustable lumbar support.

Icon trim – which is only available for the regular hybrid – also misses out on a 12.3in fully digital instrument panel behind the steering wheel. Instead, there's a smaller 7in display.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

That heavily styled rear end makes it hard to see what’s behind you when you're reversing, and the small rear side windows don’t help. Fortunately, all versions have a reversing camera to help get around the issue.

Parking sensors are an option on entry-level Icon trim, while Design models and above come with front and rear parking sensors as standard.

The view out of the front is generally good and the front pillars don't get in the way too much when pulling out of junctions. However, some boxier SUV rivals are even easier to see out of.

Sat nav and infotainment

Entry-level Icon trim includes a fairly small 8.0in touchscreen. We haven't tried it yet, but it comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring and a Cloud-based navigation system.

All other trims have an upgraded 12.3in touchscreen. It's positioned helpfully high up on the dashboard and is angled slightly towards the driver, so it's easy to see and reach. The operating system isn't the most intuitive but you get the hang of it fairly quickly, and the screen responds quickly when you press it. Versions with the bigger screen also have a built-in sat-nav and voice recognition.

You get a six-speaker stereo on most trim levels, with a more powerful nine-speaker JBL sound system (which sounds great) fitted to Excel and Premiere Edition models. The JBL system is optional on the GR Sport.

Quality

The C-HR feels reasonably plush inside by small SUV standards. There's plenty of soft-touch plastic, along with suede-effect lining on the insides of the doors of GR Sport, Excel and Premiere Edition models.

Cheaper Icon and Design models have seats trimmed in a fabric made from 100% recycled bottles, while the part suede-effect upholstery on Excel models is made from 45% old bottles. Going for Premiere Edition trim is the only way to get full-leather seats.

In the main, the C-HR's interior feels well screwed together, although there are a few wobbly bits, including some plastic trim on the inside of the doors (and it’s a shame the rear doors are covered in very cheap-feeling plastic).

If you want to experience the plushest interior in the class with the best build quality, we'd point you in the direction of the Lexus LBX. In the PHEV world, the C-HR’s interior compares very well with competitors', although the MX-30 R-EV is even classier.

“I like that the C-HR's centre console is angled towards the driver, making it easy to view the controls. Plus, while so many rivals force you to use their touchscreens for simple tasks like changing the temperature, it's nice to see Toyota retaining physical dials and buttons.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Interior overview

Strengths Comfortable driver's seat; punchy nine-speaker JBL sound system; smart interior materials

Weaknesses You don't sit that high by SUV standards; no lumbar adjustment on Icon trim; some wobbly bits of interior trim

Toyota C-HR boot open

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

You won’t have any issues with space in the front of the Toyota C-HR unless you’re well over six feet tall. Thanks to its fairly wide interior, you also won’t feel as though you’re rubbing shoulders with your front seat passenger.

Toyota says the fixed glass roof (optional on Design and GR Sport and standard on the Premiere Edition) raises the height of the ceiling by 3cm rather than reducing head room, and it certainly makes the interior feel more open and airy.

There’s some stowage space between the driver and passenger for odds and ends, along with a couple of cupholders next to the gear lever. The door pockets are rather slender, though.

Rear space

Given that the C-HR has a similar footprint to a Skoda Karoq, you might assume rear space would be similar in both cars. Sadly, that’s not the case.

In fact, the C-HR is actually pretty cramped in the back, with rear leg and head room closer to that offered by much smaller SUVs, such as the Lexus LBX and the Peugeot 2008. Head room is particularly disappointing.

A couple of children – or even younger teenagers – won’t moan about outright space, but they may feel rather claustrophobic as the tiny rear side windows make you feel a bit like you’re trapped in a pillar box. Squeezing three in the back is more difficult than in many of the C-HR’s rivals too.

Seat folding and flexibility

All C-HRs come with 60/40 split-folding rear seats, but that’s about your lot. There’s no option to add more convenient 40/20/40 folding seats, and there are no handles in the boot to fold the seatbacks down (you have to push a button next to the rear headrests, requiring you to walk around to the side of the car).

The rear seats don’t slide or recline, either, and adjustable lumbar support is available for only the driver, not the front passenger.

For better flexibility, you’ll want to take a look at the Karoq in SE L trim because that comes with Skoda’s Varioflex seats, which can be reclined, slid back and forth, or even removed from the car altogether.

Boot space

Outright boot space is disappointing compared with boxier rivals, such as the Seat Ateca and Skoda Karoq. The C-HR’s boot is hardly tiny though, so a weekend away is unlikely to cause any issues.

It's worth noting that the 2.0 has a higher boot floor than the 1.8 so it loses some storage space, but overall capacity drops by just 6% (from 388 to 364 litres). The boot floor is even higher in the plug-in hybrid, with capacity dropping down to a rather disappointing 310 litres – a figure that trails the Kia Niro and Mazda MX-30.

We managed to fit six carry-on suitcases in the boot of the regular 2.0 hybrid – the same as we squeezed into the Audi Q2 and LBX.

It’s a pity Toyota hasn’t made the boot easier to use. For example, there’s no height-adjustable boot floor, meaning there’s always an annoyingly big lip at the boot entrance – unless you go for the plug-in hybrid version, which has that high boot floor anyway.

“The C-HR's standard-fit panoramic glass roof can help to make the rear of the car feel a bit less drab and dark, but it's by no means a cure-all. Interestingly, that roof isn't available on the C-HR's Lexus LBX sibling, even as an option.” – Neil Winn, Deputy Reviews Editor

Practicality overview

Strengths Decent front space

Weaknesses Cramped rear seats; boot space nothing to write home about; limited seating flexibility

Toyota C-HR interior driver display

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash buy, the Toyota C-HR doesn’t seem particularly cheap, especially when you compare it with the price of an entry-level Seat Ateca or Skoda Karoq.

In fact, the more expensive C-HR trim levels creep into the same territory as premium-badged alternatives, including the BMW X1, Lexus LBX and Volvo XC40. (To make sure you get the best price, check out our latest new Toyota deals.)

It’s also quite a jump up to the PHEV model, which is more expensive than equivalent plug-in versions of the Kia Niro or the Mazda MX-30 R-EV.

Mind you, thanks to their low CO2 emissions, all versions of the C-HR are cheaper to run as a company car than many equivalent rivals. If you want to sacrifice significantly less of your salary in benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax, you'll need to consider a fully electric alternative, such as the Kia Niro EV or Volvo EX40 (the electric version of the XC40).

Official fuel economy is very impressive in all versions. During testing at our private test track, the 2.0 regular hybrid returned an impressive 48.8mpg. The official figures for the plug-in hybrid are ludicrously high and not representative of most real-world driving scenarios (the same can be said of all official PHEV figures), but it should still prove to be decently frugal if you charge the battery regularly.

Equipment, options and extras

If you're getting the regular hybrid, don't rule out entry-level Icon trim (which is not available with the PHEV). It comes with all of the essentials, including adaptive cruise control, keyless entry, climate control and LED headlights. However, it does have a smaller infotainment touchscreen than other trims levels.

Our favourite C-HR trim is Design. As well as the bigger touchscreen, it adds a fully digital driver display, ambient interior lighting and heated front seats. Plus, it gains extra parking aids and opens up some personalisation features, including the option to have a black roof.

The higher trim levels add an increasing amount of standard equipment, but push the C-HR well into the territory of bigger cars, including the Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC40.

Reliability

Toyota came an impressive second (out of 32 manufacturers) in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey behind only Lexus, which is actually owned by Toyota.

This latest-generation C-HR was too new to be included, but the previous model (2016-2023) was one of the most dependable cars in its class.

Although the standard three-year warranty isn't anything special, as long as you get you C-HR serviced annually at an official Toyota dealer, that warranty cover will be automatically extended for up to 10 years or 100,000 miles (whichever comes first).

Safety and security

The C-HR comes with a fair amount of safety kit, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blind-spot monitoring and road-sign assist. You also get lane-departure warning and automatic high-beam assist for the headlights.

For even more kit, upgrading to Design trim adds rear cross-traffic alert (which warns of approaching cars when you’re backing out of a driveway on to a road). Further active safety kit, including a driver monitoring camera and front cross traffic alert, is fitted to Excel and range-topping Premiere Edition models, and is available as on option on GR Sport trim.

At the time of writing, Euro NCAP hadn't published a safety appraisal on the latest C-HR, so we can't tell you how well its likely to protect you or your family.

“It's a shame that the Toyota C-HR plug-in hybrid can't make use of DC public rapid chargers like the rival Mazda MX-30 R-EV can, because using those can significantly shorten charging times.” – Chris Haining, Sub-editor

Costs overview

Strengths Excellent efficiency; should prove very reliable; most trims are well equipped

Weaknesses Rather pricey; no Euro NCAP safety score yet; Icon trim misses out on some things you'll probably want

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FAQs

  • Yes it is. The PHEV version comes with a 2.0-litre engine and a 13.8kWh battery offering an official electric range of 41 miles.

  • The C-HR's bold, coupé-esque styling has won it a lot of fans, plus its hybrid powertrain returns impressive fuel economy.

  • The C-HR isn't very practical compared with many similarly priced small SUVs due to its cramped rear seats and so-so boot.

At a glance
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RRP price range £31,300 - £46,590
Number of trims (see all)5
Number of engines (see all)3
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)hybrid, petrol parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 313 - 60.1
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £860 / £2,086
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £1,720 / £4,173
Available colours